Nature's Nurses

Eco Consultancy & Contracting ~ Greening Your Space, Inside & Out!

Nature’s Gifts; There not just a pretty plant!

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Nature has provided us with some amazing things, plants being one. Many of these mini blessings can be found on roadsides, fields and  Check out these wonderful aromatherapy herbs which can be taken in many forms to alleviate almost every aliment.

Find more information here.

aromatherapy herbs


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The 5 Healthiest Backyard Weeds


Great article borrowed from Sarah Outlaw from Real Food Outlaws Blog

“A major part of achieving optimal health is living in partnership with nature. Growing your own food is a great way to rekindle this connection with nature. But have you thought about eating plants that grow wild—perhaps in your own backyard?

Some “weeds” can be delicious if prepared properly, and they are absolutely free.

In a recently published article, Live Science collected some easy-to-identify healthful weeds. Here are the 5 healthiest backyard weeds:

  • DandelionThe entire plant is edible, and the leaves contain vitamins A, C and K, along with calcium, iron, manganese, and potassium.
  • PurslanePurslane tops the list of plants with omega-3 fats.
  • Lamb’s-quartersLamb’s-quarters are like spinach, except healthier, tastier and easier to grow.
  • PlantainNot the better-known banana-like plant with the same name. It has a nutritional profile similar to dandelion.
  • Stinging NettlesIf you handle them so that you don’t get a painful rash from the tiny, acid-filled needles, these are delicious and nutritious cooked or prepared as a tea.

This is of course how our ancestors ate. They hunted and gathered, and ALL of it was wild. And by all accounts, they were far healthier than we are.”

 Read more here:  The 5 Healthiest Backyard Weeds 

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January 2014 Bronx Green-Up and Compost Project E-News


Pre-registration recommended. To reserve your place or for more information, please contact Bronx Green-Up at 718.817.8026 or Be aware that space is limited for some events; priority will be given to members of Bronx Green-Up gardens and NYC Compost Project sites in the Bronx.

GreenThumb/NYC Parks Membership Update
Join Bronx Green-Up as we host GreenThumb’s Membership Update for GreenThumb gardeners. It’s that time of year when gardeners need to update their community garden membership lists. GreenThumb is introducing its new Membership Agreement Form, available in four languages, which can also be accessed online. Gardeners must ensure their garden records are kept up-to-date with garden registrations and current license agreements, and have no outstanding violations in order to be eligible to receive supplies, technical assistance, and services throughout the year. For more information, call GreenThumb at 212.788.8070.
Saturday, February 8 • 10 a.m.–2 p.m. • The New York Botanical Garden • Watson Education Building, Room 302

Bronx Green-Up Info Table: Bronx Parks Speak Up—Bronx Parks: A 20/20 Vision
Visit our table for free tip sheets, pamphlets, and workshop schedules designed to help gardeners increase their horticultural expertise. Event registration required. For more information, visit
Saturday, February 22 • 11 a.m.–5 p.m. • Lehman College • 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West • Faculty Dining Room of the Music Building

Grow More Vegetables Certificate Series 2014
The Grow More Vegetables Certificate Series is an edible gardening course designed to equip community gardeners, teachers, and city residents with organic techniques for growing vegetables safely and effectively, particularly in an urban setting. The program consists of six classroom sessions and additional hands-on gardening instruction in the field. Each student will have the opportunity to design his or her own urban vegetable gardening project as a final component of the course. The projects are open-ended with two main goals: to grow more food and to pass on what will have been learned to an identified group in your community. To request an application, please e-mail or call 718.817.8026.
Six Wednesdays, March 5–April 9 • 6–8 p.m. • The New York Botanical Garden • Watson Education Building

Workshop and Information Table: GreenThumb GrowTogether Conference
Join Bronx Green-Up for a gardening workshop and then visit our table for free tip sheets, pamphlets, and workshop schedules designed to help gardeners increase their horticultural expertise. For more information, visit
Saturday, March 29 • 9 a.m.–4 p.m.; specific workshop time to be determined • Hostos Community College • East 149th Street and Grand Concourse

Pre-registration recommended. To reserve your place or for more information, please contact the NYC Compost Project in the Bronx at 718.817.8543 or Be aware that space is limited for some events; priority will be given to members of Bronx Green-Up gardens and NYC Compost Project sites in the Bronx.

MulchFest: Chip In! Mulch Your Tree! Help NYC Grow!
Bring your holiday tree to a designated park to be recycled into mulch that will nourish plantings across the city. Remove all lights and ornaments before bringing the tree to a MulchFest site. You are encouraged to bring sturdy bags to carry home free mulch provided at specific sites across the five boroughs. For more information, visit NYC’s 2014 Christmas Tree Recycling Web site.
Saturday and Sunday, January 11 and 12 • 10 a.m.–2 p.m. • Locations throughout New York City

Crazy for Composting
Are you passionate about composting but want more from your bin? This Q&A session provides the practical tips, advice, and encouragement you need to take composting to the next level, whether you are just starting out or have been digging in for years. Registered GreenThumb community gardens will be able to request an order of compost, soil, or clean fill for early spring delivery. Registration required; e-mail or call 718.817.8543 to register for one or both sessions.
Saturday, February 15 • 10 a.m.–12 p.m. and 1–3 p.m. • The New York Botanical Garden • Watson Education Building

Bronx Master Composter Certificate Programapplications due February 20
This comprehensive train-the-trainer course is designed to promote the practice of composting in homes, schools, and community gardens in the Bronx. The program is held at The New York Botanical Garden in the spring and consists of seven Tuesday evening classes, two Saturday field trips, and 30 hours of Bronx-based volunteer outreach service in compost education and promotion. Course material fee is $40; limited scholarships are available. For an application and course details, visit the NYC Master Composter Certificate Course Web page, e-mail, or call 718.817.8543.

NYC Compost Project Information Tables
Stop by for free tip sheets, pamphlets, and workshop schedules designed to help gardeners increase their composting expertise. Experts will be on hand to answer composting questions.

  • Bronx Parks Speak Up
    Event registration required; for more information and to register, visit
    Saturday, February 22 • 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; Information Table, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. • Lehman Community College • 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West • Faculty Dining Room of the Music Building 
  • GreenThumb GrowTogether
    Event registration required; for more information and to register, visit
    Saturday, March 29 • 9 a.m.–4 p.m.; specific workshop time to be determined • Hostos Community College • East 149th Street and Grand Concourse

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DIY Greenhouse – Geodesic dome

I love the idea of this project by , through the Instructables website;

Would love if someone tried it and sent me their finished greenhouse pictures!

You would need:

Wooden laths (cheapest kind) – amount depending on how big you want the dome
Some-kind of pincers
Fence wire (soft)
Small clip/nail/clamp gun
Plastic film roll – about 8m x 2.5m
Some thread and anchors (bricks) for stabilization
Wide transparent tape
1-2liter Varnish & brush
Color sticky markers (for ease of construction)
Scissors / Cutting knife 

For window (x times how many you want):
Small Hinges x2
Wider wooden laths for covering gaps around border

For doors:
Small Hinges x 2 
Furniture magnets 1-3
Furniture metal corners x 8 (4 for doors, 4 for frame) 
Wider wooden laths for covering gaps around border
Some handle

Soil & seeds or plants

Total costs for me were about: 80 EUR = ~ 105 USD

Greenhouse has been standing well since beginning of the summer

Step 1: Cutting wooden laths

You would need to cut 3 types of wooden laths

For calculations I recommend to use this site (I built 5/8 size):

High precision is not necessary (+/- 5mm)

For example for 1.5m radius (that I had) you would need

A elements 0.522m x 30
B elements 0.605m x 90
C elements 0.618m x 120

You can tweak these numbers in order to get the most out of wooden laths that in my case came in about 2m length.

 I advise you to write letter A, B, C with pencil on each stick and tie them together by groups.


I advise sawing trough 4 or more laths at once. Sawing took for me about 3 hours of work.

Step 2: Drilling wholes in both sides of sticks


I advise to drill trough 3 or more sticks at once to make process faster.  In my case it took about 2 hours of work

Step 3:

Next using diagram & fence wire start tithing sticks together.


There are 2 types of shapes you would need to make:

Hexagons – with 6 C sticks
Pentagons – with 5 A sticks
All shared borders are B sticks  

Start building it upside-down with Pentagon in the middle.

Again precision is not that important at this point. If you mix something up it is relatively easy to take it apart and fix it.

I advise you to use color sticky markers in order to keep track of shapes.  Assembly of dome itself for me took about 3 hours.

Step 4: Making doors

Next you would need to turn structure to correct position sitting on bottom.

If the structure collapses its OK, because you would be able to straighten it out when it is standing.

When it is standing measure as precise as you can doorway and create sides of doors like in images to make frame.

Strengthen frame using metal corners on the corners of frame. It will also make sure it do not deform.

Step 5: Doors, Window and varnish

Measure and create construction of doors (straighten them in corners with metal corners)
Keep in mind space for hinges and wider lathes around frame of doors (and places for magnets)


Measure and create window as triangle inside other chosen triangle. I strongly advice to have 2 or more windows because this dome-type greenhouse is very humid when it is finished.

You can see my window frame in one of the images below (in corner), but you can improvise your own version. I used thread to tie a handle for it (for use to hold it in open position when it is finished)

                            20130608_IMG_1744.JPG      20130608_IMG_1745.JPG     20130608_IMG_1741.JPG

After construction varnish everything as well as you can (I advise at least 2 times with a time span in between to dry it), otherwise wood will rot very soon.  Let everything dry for couple of hours day.

Step 6: Secure plastic film

Make sure it will not be windy day, because wind could blow whole project away like a sail.

Secure plastic film roll using clamp/nail/clamp gun (I do not know exact name of it in english – look in photo)

20130611_IMG_1758 - Copy.JPG
Start putting on plastic on doors, windows and then start from top to one side of the dome.  Try to secure plastic in pieces as large as possible so you do not need many cuts.
20130611_IMG_1760 - Copy.JPG
Shoot with gun clamps in wooden frame and stretch plastic over. If it is not precise you can fold plastic in rolls that you can nail to frame as well.

Don’t worry if there are some holes not covered. You can add cut-off pieces later at the end.

Step 7: Construct outer frames of windows

Add wider wooden laths around frames of doors and windows like in pictures.Add furniture magnets to doors and windows (if you wish). They work really good and I advice to add one to window as well.Add handle to doors.Add hinges to doors and windows and install them to the structure.Add some extra plastic film around doors and window to avoid wind blowing trough the structure when it is not desirable. If you will have wind draft you could have giant sail in your garden.

Step 8: Prep location

Get ready spot for greenhouse (you can measure radius with a string)Dig out grass around radius and put on new soil.
Dig holes for anchors and get thread and bricks/rocks to construct them.
Next you should be able to pick up whole structure from inside and move it over the new spot. Hold it by the frame.When you place it on the spot you can arrange disrupted parts and secure it with anchors.

Step 9: Planting

From my experience of growing plants:Plant fewer plants rather many together – in the end you will have better harvest. Use some organic fertilizer
If you plant tomatoes make sure the soil is right and you have very good ventilation, because they like more air than humid air.Things that grow well in this kind of greenhouse:
– radishes
– salads
– peppermints & other kind of spices
– tomatoes
– paprika
20130618_IMG_1794 (1).JPG
20130618_IMG_1793_1 (1).JPG
My plan for next year is to build autonomous ventilation and irrigation system using Arduino or something like that.You could also build inside some white led lights to have glowing dome in night time.
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Top 10 Beneficial Bugs

Top 10 Beneficial Bugs for the Garden


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Lots to Garden- 596 Arces call for Bronx lots

596-acres-main-1I’m the Bronx facilitator for 596Acres, a non -profit dedicated to helping NYC residents gain access to public vacant lots in order to turn them into usable community spaces. We provide a step by step resource for getting people the information they need to go through the process of converting these spaces, from getting in touch with the property owners, to securing materials for their spaces to setting up legal structure.lots to gardenSome Bronxites have already contacted me to get started working on lots. They’ve plugged in the address to their prospective lot on our website,, and have identified and contacted the owners of the spaces to see what is in the works for it.  There is then a dialogue to see what can be done.596 website imageSo if you know of a place you should do two things… 1.) log into the 596 website and plug in the address to get it rolling….and 2.) help me post signs on these and other vacant lots to create community awareness.

The other borough organizing fellows and I will be making signs on Sunday April 28 at Build It Green! NYC at the Gowanus Center, to post on lots where people think would be a good place for change.

Then during the first two weeks of May we will go out and post.  I could use your help with this so please sign up…Mon-May 6th from 12-3pm; Tues- May 7th & 14th from 3-6pm; Wednesday- May 1st & 8th from 3-6pm and Saturday- May 4th  & 11th from 12-3pm.596 posting on gatesPut your name down for the days you can help post:

There will also be a general meeting for Bronx lot organizers, that’s you, on May 19th, from 3-5pm at Brook Park, located between 140th and 141st Streets at the corner of Brook Avenue in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South, South Bronx.

For more information about the process, check here:

Contact me at to sign up to help with the posting and to get moving on greening your community.


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How to Keep Deer out of Your Garden

Although its great to have a space where Mother Natures’ creatures can visit and feel at home, they can become quite the unwelcomed guest.  Here are some simple things you can do to manage deer on your property.

deer in garden


1- Use plants that deer don’t like to eat in and around your garden-Some common plants and herbs to try are less
appealing to deer and other garden pests but beneficial to pollinators and helpful garden insects like: marigolds, crape myrtle, geranium ‘rozanne’, foxglove, daisies, papaver (poppies), narcissus, rudbeckia, achillea, agastache, aster, lupine, coreopsis, verbascum, centaurea, echinacea, mint, chives, oregano, rosemary, sage, bay laurel, tarragon, thyme, fennel & lavender. Contact your local nursery to see which plants are native (and able to thrive) to your area.

2- Surround your property with fencing Only use wire mesh or solid fencing.  Deer can squeeze through just about any spaces between slats or gaps in wood fencing. (Mesh now comes in a variety of colors and can blend in better with your surroundings.) The recommended height is at least 8 feet high – higher on a slope so the deer won’t be able to leap over.  If you cant make it that high, create a barrier by erecting parallel 4-foot-high fences, 5 feet apart. Deer won’t attempt to jump shorter fences if they see another obstacle.

3– Use Deer Netting Sheets and Tree BagsDeer netting is lightweight and easy to setup/take down.  Fence in trees or cover raised beds with mesh or screens. The barriers should be up to 6 feet tall and at least 2 feet from the foliage
so the deer cannot eat over or through the fences.  Shrub and tree netting can be used year round, protecting trees and shrubs in winter from roaming deer.  Garden nylon mesh netting sheets can be used on larger trees, and as a cover for flowers and vegetables. Use strong, multi-strand, U/V protected deer netting, which lasts for years instead of the single strand netting.

4- Spray your garden with a natural deer repellent Blend 2 or 3 old eggs in blender with 2 tablespoons of minced garlic, a dash or two of cayenne pepper & Tabasco sauce. Add 1 cup of water with couple drops of cooking oil, then puree and strain it.  Put it into a spray bottle and use once a week on plants you want to protect.

Or you can use fermented salmon fertilizer as a repellant. “Salmon fertilizer is a natural product and can be applied to vegetables as well as to your ornamental plants. Spray a dilute solution on your plants, and the odor will discourage deer from eating the foliage. Natural oils in the fertilizer will help keep it from washing off quickly in rain, so it doesn’t need to be applied as often as some other sprays.  It will also discourage aphids and help prevent fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and black spot. If you apply it in the evening, the smell will have time to dissipate overnight. However, you may not want to use it too close to harvest time! Consider carefully whether you should try the salmon option if you live in bear country.”

5- Some extras to try- Deer are skittish about any unfamiliar smell, sight or sound. Unpredictable sound, light and motion are good tactics. Wind chimes, flags or windsocks can do the job and also beautify your garden space. Hang
bars of deodorant soap like Zest or Irish Spring from trees throughout the garden. Add enough of the pungent bars so no tempting leaves are more than 3 feet from a bar.

I do not recommend electric fences or chemical repellants, as both are harmful to other animals, pets and children. The methods listed are ideas related to IPM practices, Integrated Pest Management, which tries to find the best solution for problems by understanding the habits of the pests involved and leaving the use chemicals as a last resort.


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Butterfly Parks

 Butterflies are urban canaries indicating diverse natural habitats that support all sorts of beneficial pollinators. No butterflies equals poor urban habitat. Only one or two sightings or species means the habitat is lacking in many of the elements needed to support a diverse community. Here’s how to create a Butterfly Park in your backyard or community garden.

butterfly park

§  A Butterfly Park is an area planted in a sunny spot in your garden to attract butterflies (and other pollinators) filled with a variety of native perennial nectar and host plants.

§  Sure, you can plant annuals and sunflowers in a Butterfly Park. Just remember you will have to replant or replace annuals every year.

 §  Most native plants will tolerate weather conditions in the area and may be drought tolerant. You should, however, mulch the Butterfly Park to help retain water and keep the weeds down.

 §  Butterflies and the nectar and host plants they like need full sun. Place the Butterfly Park in an open, sunny location that has some wind protection.

 §  Butterflies need to be warm to fly. Place a large, flat rock or two in the Butterfly Park so they can sun themselves.

 §  Butterflies need water. Make a small depression in the Butterfly Park, lining the edges with rocks and adding a little water each day.

 §  To get your Butterfly Park started, we suggest a minimum area of 4’X4’ with 8-12 different plant varieties in 1 gallon pots but use as much space as you want and feel free to add more than one of each type of plant.

 §  Use 2 8’ 2’x4’s cut to 4’ lengths to make a border for your Butterfly Park. Just screw the corners together to make a square. This will delineate the area from the rest of the garden and keep people from trampling the flowers.

 §  Inside the perimeter of your Butterfly Park, dig out the grass and loosen the soil with a garden fork. Generally, no soil amendments are required for native plants unless your soil is very low in organic material. If it is, a couple of inches of compost mixed in will help. NEVER USE PESTICIDES IN A BUTTERFLY PARK!

 §  Think “miniature landscape” when you plan your Butterfly Park or use square foot gardening to imagine 2’ X 2’ squares each with a different type of plant, plant type, color, texture. Consider the size of mature plants and the angle from which most people view your park.

 §  Butterfly Bush, Butterfly Weed and Bee Balm make wonderful additions in the corner of your Butterfly Park. When placed in the corner, you can use the other ¾ of the park to highlight other plants that might be otherwise overshadowed.

 §  Unused tree pits can be perfect sites for a Butterfly Park, but like street trees, they may need some type of guard to keep dogs out.

 §  Label your plants, where appropriate, and you will increase the educational value of the Butterfly Park. Invite the local Public School to use the area as a field trip resource.

 §  If space permits, expand your Butterfly Park. Enjoy the Butterflies you attract to your garden and neighborhood by creating a wonderful habitat for them.

 §  Visit NYBG’s Bronx Green-Up Beginners’ Guide to Butterfly Gardening or Community Green’s Butterfly, Host, Nectar Plants for more information.


Article written by guest author:

Charles Vasser 917.691.8037

Community Green Butterfly Parks